In 1940 near Chicago’s historic Printer’s Row, two men started Excel Paper Company, which was a small printing paper jobbing operation that sold paper, envelopes, and announcements. The beginnings of Excel coincided with the onset of World War II, and paper was on allotment and nearly impossible to get for a start-up paper merchant with little capital and small sales volume. However, the company persevered and built their reputation on service and care for the customer.
In the 1950s, Excel began to market gummed papers, which had water-activated adhesives, and also pressure sensitive label papers. The company continued to thrive and built a loyal customer base in the industry.
Over the years and with increased customer demand for adhesive backed papers, the company became more of a niche business and changed their name from Excel to Gummed Papers of America in the late 1970s, then to GPA in the early 1980s.
GPA experienced a lot of exciting growth in the 1990s. In 1992, GPA expanded its reach and service capabilities when it opened its first regional headquarters in California. This allowed GPA to more quickly and effective service their customers on the West Coast.
As the company continued its focus on label papers and adhesive technology advanced further, the name Gummed Papers of America no longer represented its true business. In 1997, the company changed its name to GPA, America's Label Expert, and was focused entirely on providing pressure sensitive papers and label product solutions, earning the reputation as the industry experts. A new company logo was introduced, and is the current logo that represents GPA today.
Then in 1999, GPA opened their East Coast office in Connecticut, ensuring that customers throughout the United States received the highest levels of service and faster access to the highest quality products.
New printing technology began to emerge, and the way our customers printed began to evolve. Traditional offset printing paved the way for laser and xerographic printing, and synthetic substrates or “plastics” entered the picture, calling for a higher degree of specialization due to the unique properties of the different materials. GPA fully supported this new demand with a wide offering of products and the technical support that allowed our customers to expand into new markets and opportunities.
Along Came Digital Printing
In the mid-nineties, high quality digital printing became a reality with the introduction of the Indigo TurboStream, and in 1997 GPA began to sell pressure papers optimized for this new technology. Not long after, in 2003 GPA began selling coated, uncoated and fine papers for HP Indigo presses, then added HP Indigo compatible synthetics about a year later. This new printing technology proved to be revolutionary, and GPA’s offering continued to grow alongside new press developments.
As the landscape of the printing industry transformed itself, GPA changed beside it with a larger collection than ever before of substrates for offset presses, and an ever-evolving collection of media for HP Indigo presses. GPA had become much more than America’s Label Expert, and in 2005 changed their name to “GPA, Specialty Printable Substrates” to reflect the wider scope of their product offering.
Also in 2005, the Digital Solutions Cooperative (Dscoop) was formed as an independent community dedicated to professionals who use HP Indigo and Scitex equipment and related solutions. GPA was a founding partner at the organization’s inception, and today continues to have an active presence in the HP Indigo community at the highest partner level of Dscoop Diamond Partner.
New Name, Renewed Focus
In 2007, GPA unveiled a new campaign and call to action: “Ask GPA.” At this time they changed their name to “GPA, Specialty Substrate Solutions” to reflect the value they offer far beyond substrates. The new name and call to action strengthened their reputation as a leader in providing traditional and specialty print media with the consultative support that gives GPA customers the competitive advantage.
GPA was named a Preferred Media Partner of HP Indigo in 2008, which was the result of GPA’s relationship over more than a decade with the HP Indigo community. Their demonstrated commitment to substrate innovation and profitable growth for customers with HP Indigo technology earned them this designation.
Further Growth & Expansion
In 2010, GPA acquired TEC Papers USA from Wausau Coated Products Inc. TEC Papers, located in the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw, GA, was a national distributor of sheet-fed pressure sensitive paper, film and digital substrates to the printing industry. The two companies merged in the same year, which established a fourth GPA-owned and operated facility in the United States and vastly expanded the service and products that GPA offered.
In 2013, GPA’s Southeast Regional Headquarters more than doubled in size when it expanded into the adjacent suite of their building. The acquisition and merger of TEC Papers with GPA had a significant positive impact on GPA’s growth and ability to service customers in the Southeast Region.
GPA continued to pioneer innovative substrates for emerging technologies, and with the launch of a new Digital Product Catalog in 2013, officially expanded their digital offering to include a wide variety of substrates for toner digital presses. This broad new offering gave digital print service providers more options than ever before for providing creative and practical solutions to their customers.
Then in 2014, GPA responded to customer demands in yet another market segment and added a new line of products for wide format inkjet printing. Also in 2014, to better serve customers in the Greater Toronto Area, GPA made an agreement with Huge Papers, a leading distributor of digital papers in Toronto and southwest Ontario, Canada. The combination of GPA's substrates and expertise with Huge Paper's local delivery and personalized customer service opened the door to new opportunities for print solutions providers in the Greater Toronto Area, southwest Ontario and beyond.
Just as we started out doing in 1940, today GPA remains dedicated to providing our customers with personalized support, attentive service and the highest quality products available on the market. Our industry experts are committed to supporting you and your business with innovative solutions and customized business support, and to growing with you now and in the future.